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The Top 14 Parenting News Stories of 2012
The weird, wacky, viral and cool—these were the parenting stories that defined 2012.
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- WKBTBeating the Bullies
Jennifer Livingston, a morning anchor with WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wisconsin, started a national conversation by calling out a viewer on the air after he wrote her an email criticizing her weight. Her editorial went super-viral, touching a nerve that launched a national conversation about bullying, weight and what it means to be a role model. When the dust settled, she shared her thoughts on the experience exclusively with Parenting.com.
Royally Good News
More than a year and a half after their royal wedding, Prince William and Kate Middleton announced they are expecting their first child. Boy or girl, the royal spawn will be third in line for the throne. The happy news had a worrisome caveat: Kate has been diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a severe form of nausea and vomiting, much more serious than regular morning sickness.
Alana Thompson, better known to us all as "Honey Boo Boo," had a stellar 2012. The Southern child beauty pageant contestant was an instant sensation for her campy turn on TLC's "Toddlers & Tiaras" reality show—earning her a showof her own, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." Described as a "car crash" by the Hollywood Reporter and a "horror story" by The Onion's AV Club, the show highlights the less-than-urbane lifestyle of Honey and her extended family. Whether the Thompson clan is being exploited or not is open for debate. But Honey Boo Boo, who was one of the top search terms in 2012, is cackling all the way to the bank.
Snipped Straight from the Latest Research
Revising its policy on circumcision for the first time in 13 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced in August that the preventative health benefits of infant circumcision clearly outweigh the risks. The AAP’s previous policy statement, published in 1999 and affirmed in 2005, took a more neutral stance on circumcision, noting “potential medical benefits,” but saying it’s “not essential to the child's current well-being.” To help parents make the decision, we presented viewpoints from parents who had chosen to circumcise, and those who had opted out.
"A Sad Day for Sesame Street"
Kevin Clash, the longtime voice and puppeteer behind Sesame Street’s Elmo character, resigned in the wake of multiple allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor—some of which had been recanted. Without the magic that Clash brought to him, Elmo's long-term future is now uncertain, although pre-taped episodes will continue to run through the spring.
The Internet Bites Back
When a foursome of seventh-grade boys ruthlessly bullied their elderly bus monitor, Karen Klein, a cell phone video of the incident went massively viral. Shocked by the incident, authorities handed the quartet a one-year suspension from school plus community service. Klein used her YouTube notoriety and donations from well-wishers to start an anti-bullying foundation.
A Whopping Year for Whooping Cough
In 2012, the U.S. experienced its worst epidemic of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in more than 50 years. Nationwide, the outbreak is startling: 32,000 cases reported as of Oct. 24, along with 16 deaths, most of them infants. Experts now recommend that all healthy children and adults (especially those caring for a baby) and pregnant women should receive the vaccine or a booster.
The birth rate fell to its lowest point since 1920, the first year the National Center for Health Statistics started keeping track. Analysis by the Pew Research Center closely ties the decline to the downturn in the economy, starting around 2008. The birth rate is the annual number of births per 1,000 women in the prime childbearing ages of 15 to 44. It was 63.2 in 2011, a dip of 8% since 2007.
- Courtesy of the athlete
A Gold for Toughing it Out
And you thought you were awesome for making it through prenatal yoga. At this year's London Olympics, volleyball star Kerri Walsh-Jennings played her way to her third gold medal while unknowingly pregnant with her third child.
Pole Dancing: Not Just for Moms!
Pole dancing fitness classes are nothing new, but this year certain schools and gyms began offering pole dancing classes created specifically for children. And not only were parents signing their kids up; in some cases, the classes were their idea in the first place.
The Bigotry of Boy Scouts
Jennifer Tyrrell, a Bridgeport, OH, mom and Den Mother for her son’s local Tiger Scout pack, was dropped from the Boy Scouts in April because she is gay. Although local leaders were aware she is a lesbian and pledged to support her, the national office decided to uphold its ban on openly gay parents, despite an online petition signed by more than 300,000 people.
- The Atlantic
To Have it All … Or Not to Have it All?
Anne Marie Slaughter touched off a firestorm of debate about working mothers when she wrote a cover story for The Atlantic magazine titled, provocatively, "Why Women Still Can’t Have it All". It’s a story that both resonated with and rankled readers of every stripe in its assertion that women cannot flourish at the highest level in their careers and still be present for their children.
- Courtesy PBS
Rally ‘Round the Bird
At the first presidential debate (remember those?) this fall, Mitt Romney volunteered that, if elected, he would end government funding for public broadcasting. “I like PBS. I love Big Bird...But I’m not going to—I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it,” he said, ruffling more than a few feathers. Big Bird went viral with dozens of memes, making him an unlikely centerpiece of the campaign.
In January 2012, hip-hop’s royal couple Beyonce and Jay-Z welcomed their first child, daughter Blue Ivy Carter, into the world. In his heartfelt tribute song, “Glory,” released two days after Blue Ivy’s birth, Jay-Z revealed for the first time that the superstar mega-couple had previously suffered a miscarriage. In March, Beyonce was spotted breastfeeding in public, lending some mainstream, glam validation to nursing moms everywhere.